Casinos that want to expand their capacity beyond 50 percent may need to come up with a plan to get their employees vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new memo from the Gaming Control Board released last Friday.
“New viral variants and a relatively low degree of vaccination penetration within the hospitality workforce drives the Board’s current approach rooted in caution,” the memo says. “…consideration by the Board to increase gaming floor occupancy will only be taken in cases where licensees have taken measurable and material steps to vaccinate, and thereby, protect their workforce, visitors, and the community.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak said that plans to reopen the state at full capacity falls into the hands of Nevada’s 16 counties on May 1, but the Gaming Control Board determines how casinos can operate during the pandemic. On March 15, casinos, restaurants, and bars reopened at 50 percent capacity after coping with 25 percent capacity in late November through February 15 and a bump up to 35 percent capacity through March 15. In the meantime, availability of COVID-19 vaccinations became more widely available. Hospitality workers became eligible for either the first of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or the one-dose version from Johnson & Johnson on March 11. An estimated 301,700 hospitality employees work in Nevada, with about 60,000 represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which is encouraging is members to get vaccinated.
To that end, casino operators opened their own vaccination facilities for workers. Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos, Caesars Entertainment, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and MGM Resorts, to name a few local casino operators, all now have vaccination sites dedicated to hospitality workers and in some cases their families,
Starting on April 1, Caesars Entertainment partnered with Albertsons to administer 1,000 to 2,000 doses of Pfizer vaccinations daily. The company also has a clinic at the Rio with the hopes of vaccinating 10,000 employees in April.
MGM Resorts opened a vaccination clinic inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center that administers 700 doses a day. The company already vaccinated 1,000 employees during a two-day pilot program.
Station Casinos partnered with AMR to administer shots to employees and their families on April 6 at Palace Station, Sunset Station, Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, Santa Fe Station, and Boulder Station.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas started offering on-site vaccinations for its 4,000 employees as well as family members on March 22.
Wynn Resorts reports that about 3,000 of its employees already received vaccinations at Encore Las Vegas at a site operated by University Medical Center.
Vaccination eligibility opened to all Nevadans age 16 and older on Monday, April 5.
The Southern Nevada Health District reports that Clark County administered 1,037,600 doses of vaccine as of April 6. As of March 31, the latest numbers from the health department show that Clark County administered 21,877 doses of Johnson & Johnson, 228,063 first and 119,238 second doses of Moderna, and 374,108 first and 203,253 second doses of Pfizer.
Since the pandemic started, Clark County reported 235,900 cases of COVID-19 as of April 6. The county reports 14,687 hospitalized and 4,146 deaths since the pandemic started, with 1,310 new cases reported in the past seven days.